January 25, 2018

By April Fry

Last November we celebrated 7 years with our sweet girl. Seven years since BJ and I raced through the lobby of the Galactic Peace Hotel, held our breath as the elevator slowly ascended to the third floor, and stood dazed in a hallway outside a conference room filled with babies. Seven years since we heard our daughter’s Chinese name called out, quickly followed by our name. It doesn’t take much prompting for me to remember all the sights and sounds of that chaotic moment. A small Chinese woman in business attire handed me this beautiful, pudgy cheeked, wide eyed, precious little person. But it’s the rush of emotions, joy, fear, gratitude, awe, that I felt in that moment that are most vivid when I’m transported back to that strange hallway in central China.

It was 12 years of pursuing a family, of praying and waiting, of bold faith and hanging on by shreds. In that moment BJ and I held our very tangible answer to prayer. The weight of my precious child felt like the sweet embrace of my Father’s love. In His perfect timing He brought us to our daughter and she was so much more than we could have imagined.

Pursued

It was the fall of 2005 when BJ and I signed our initial paperwork. We strove for almost 9 years to get pregnant. There had been countless doctor visits, specialists, invasive tests, hormones, attempts and failures. Throughout that entire season God took a tiny little seed, barely an idea and grew it into a flowering conviction, His heart for our family was adoption. Specifically, the child He would bring to our family was in China. As God began to shine light on what had been a dark and painful path, we joyfully closed the door on biology and boldly stepped out in faith.

We spent the next 9ish months making sure that we met all the requirements.  SO MUCH PAPERWORK! The local police, the FBI and USCIS (immigration) all required separate background checks and their own set of fingerprints. We filled out financial statements, medical approvals, personal references, education, work history, family history and the home study. Every completed document had to be approved by the State of Nevada (that’s where we lived at the time), US Immigration, and of course the Chinese Consulate before our dossier could be sent on to the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs. Then we waited. And waited.

When we started the adoption the entire process from completed dossier to baby was about 6-9 months. By the time China received our dossier the wait had grown to about a year, and the wait stayed at about a year for 3 years. Waiting is hard, indefinite waiting is harder; finding yourself struggling to hold on to something you were absolutely 100% convinced was God’s will feels like hitting a brick wall. God was so clear. God confirmed that our daughter was waiting for us in China in amazing ways. Miracles, complete acts of God that defied explanation paved the way to getting our dossier to China, then suddenly deafening silence. Some days I could barely pray, let alone face the world, yet God is good, and would gently remind us that He was leading us to our daughter. Despite our lack of understanding and our shredding faith, on the other side of the planet, our good, sovereign Father was knitting together the child that He knew would fill our hearts and home.

Chosen

The hardest part of any adoption story is the brutal reality that adoption starts with a life in ashes. My sweet child was born into a broken world where she inherited the consequences of other people’s choices and ended up alone and in need. She hadn’t contributed to nor did she have any control over her situation. Yet God knew her, and loved her and would begin to form the ashes of her world into something beautiful.

Of all the paperwork that China requires for adoption, what we found to be the strangest was several pages of pictures. They required pictures of BJ and I doing our favorite activities, with the people we spent time with, in our home, a few old ones but mostly current. It was these pages of our dossier that China would use to “match” us. The insanity of a government agency scouring our family photos, and the thousands of infant profiles to perfectly match us was not lost on us. Yet the hilarity of the imagined scene if offset by the sobering reality that God had already made the match. God in His providence had chosen the exact child that would be our daughter. He had quietly knit her together in her mother’s womb. He would take this precious child out of loss and pain, and deliver her to a new hope and a future in our family. 

God Makes Families

Five years after signing the 1st of so many documents, BJ and I stood outside the 3rd floor conference room marveling at the beautiful, screaming child in my arms. How something that took years, can happen in an instant I do not know. But in that moment we were a family. BJ and I had loved her and waited for her for so long, but now in the safety of our arms she was our daughter. She didn’t have his eyes lashes, or my nose but she was so perfectly ours, a Fry.

We aren’t foolish enough to believe that her history (however brief) has no effect on our family. Our sweet girl is as much our child, having grown by the grace and goodness of God in our hearts, as if she had grown in my womb. Yet she doesn’t have the security that comes with biology. Security and identity are areas that BJ and I must faithfully reinforce while she learns to trust us in deeper and deeper ways. When she first came home she wasn’t much of a crier, which sounds lovely, but it was because she wasn’t convinced that we would respond. Why waste the energy crying if no one will bring comfort? Over time, as she learned that BJ and I faithfully anticipated and meet her every need, she began to trust us and to let us know what she needed. Even now though, I still think she struggles to trust us with things she wants, so she rarely asks. As she learns that we love her unconditionally, and want only the very best for her, she will grow in trust. Though our sweet child will never be more (or less) of a Fry than that first moment she was placed in our arms, by the grace and goodness of God she will hopefully grow in her ability to rest in her Fry-ness. 

One of the many precious gifts that our adoption story gave our family was a tangible experience of the ultimate reality of adoption. Ultimately, adoption is a story about God sharing his fatherly care and love to a people who do not know him, and who do not even know that they want him. It is the story of God bringing a helpless and hopeless people into his family through faith in Christ.